Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci Review

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci 
Series: Tin Star #1
Published by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan
Publish Date: February 25, 2014

240 Pages
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


**Read Chapters 1-5 for FREE for Kindle
**Read Chapters 1-5 for FREE for NOOK

On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, 
Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. (from Goodreads) 


Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

My Thoughts:  I was attracted to Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci because of the beautiful cover and the excitement of reading a space opera - I mean, who doesn't love a great story set in space? (especially after these books which are amazing)

As Tin Star opens, young Tula Bane's ship, the Prairie Rose, has sustained some damage and has stopped off at the Yertina Feray space station for repairs. As one of the few humans that knows the Universal Galactic language, she has been allowed off of the ship with Brother Blue to assist him with communications. Brother Blue, leader of this group of humans, is someone Tula trusts and works under as part of the Children of Earth, which is a group of isolationist humans that has set out to colonize in outer space. While Tula was off the ship with Brother Blue, she trusted him and felt that he had her best interests at heart...HOWEVER she began to realize that something wasn't quite right when she noticed that the precious grain cargo belonging to the Prairie Rose was now OFF of the ship and was not being reloaded. What is the reason for this? If it is in error, it must be fixed right away! Tula's efforts at bringing this to Brother Blue's attention and discussing this with him were met with not only opposition but a firm rudeness and basically an insistence that she stand down. Why won't Brother Blue answer her questions? She had already sort of squashed some of her previous questions about some of Brother Blue's decisions, rules, and demands in the past, but she trusted the man and felt he was helping her to establish herself in a position of leadership, so she didn't outwardly question him...until now. Tula realized that the people of the Prairie Rose would be in a poor position for survival fairly quickly if the cargo was not loaded back onto the ship, so she pressed Brother Blue on the issue which was a HUGE mistake on her part. To her credit, she felt it was possible that he genuinely didn't realize that the cargo needed to go back onto the ship. 

Instead of reassuring her, instead of talking to her and making her aware of his plans - Brother Blue took Tula Bane to one of the docking bays and beat her until he thought her dead. Then he left her there and lied to her family and the other colonists about her whereabouts. It wasn't long before a resident alien species rescued her, took her to their medical clinic, and nursed her to health. And THIS begins Tula Bane's unusual time aboard the Yertina Feray AND her mission to hunt down Brother Blue and make him pay for what he did to her. 

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Tin Star is my first experience with Cecil Castellucci's storytelling and I found it to be a fun story and very imaginative. I very much enjoyed the vivid imagery created with the different alien species at Yertina Feray and how different they all were. I enjoyed being able to imagine and learn Tula Bane fairly easily in my head - I felt like as a leading character, I knew her quite well, and I appreciated this. However, while the story was a quick, fun read there were a couple of things that I felt were just a little underdeveloped for what I needed. 

First of all, let's talk about Tula. I liked her. Right away, we learn that she is a smart young girl and very useful to the people of her colony. It is her usefulness and resourcefulness that gets her in trouble with Brother Blue, and although we don't initially know WHY, we can see exactly how threatened this man is by this young girl - which is, I think, quite telling and made her very interesting to me. After Tula was nursed back to health, she acclimated to her surroundings as quickly as she possibly could for a human stuck in outer space - THE ONLY human in a place with many different species of aliens - and I think that proves my point of her resilience. Tula was quick to find a friend in a fellow cast-off alien who was very helpful to her in terms of teaching her the ropes of survival as a minor/lower species in a place such as Yertina Feray. Tula was able to learn the art of trading - she traded both favors and objects - and this is how she made her living. Again, resourceful. Tula was settling into life there (with hope that she would one day run into Brother Blue and her family) when suddenly she sees that a group of three additional humans have arrived - Reza, Caleb, and Els. 

Tula is smart - she takes her time and observes these three humans. They are together, she notices, but they are all very different and seem to have different goals. While they all want OFF of Yertina - just as Tula does - they are all willing to do different things to leave and they all have varying levels of loyalty to each other and to Tula, being that Tula is another human just like them. ALSO, these three know that because of Tula's trading skills and camaraderie with the residing species on Yertina Feray, she has something that they all want. Tula is not stupid - she can see that some of this group of three are trying to use her to get these precious things that she has, but some of them are actually trying to get to know her in hopes that she will share what she has (because they have taken a liking to her). 

Speaking of 'liking' Tula, there a little bit of romance scattered among the pages of this book - and this is where I had such a hard time. I felt like 1) none of the romantic encounters or relationships felt very personal or developed or real, so they had an almost-but-not-really comedic feel to them. Also 2) I think the story could have moved along quite nicely and made much more sense without the romantic encounters - ALL of them with the exception of perhaps one. I would have to say that there is one interaction/relationship/friendship in this story that I felt would make a much better romantic relationship than any of the others, but it was never once explored in this way, which was a little odd to me. Ultimately, I think leaving out these relationships would have been great EXCEPT that this is a series and I wonder if perhaps what I've read is set-up for future installments? If this is the case, I maintain that what I read is a little open-ended without enough closure for this first book to carry over into the second. I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens with the whole "romance" thing in the next book. BUT! The romance aspect of this book is actually not very large when compared to the story as a whole - it is just something that bugged me a bit and I wanted to talk about it. The story is much bigger than any of the romance inside of it - at this point, in my opinion. 

I LOVED the aliens in this story. They are all so very different and sort of weird and kind of gross and just...very alien. That part was done very well. I loved that I was able to picture this story easily taking place in space with the stars surrounding the docking stations and out every window...and I loved that there was a planet nearby that Tula and some of the others liked to catch glimpses of every now and then because it made them feel a connection to Earth. I can sense a bit of political something going on as there is this galactic tug-of-war for control or leadership taking place, and I'm wondering what is going on out there (meaning, outside the scope of the novel as I'm reading) and I'm excited to see what happens with the politics of the universe in the next installment. And as far as the ending goes, there is a revelation made that was not the most shocking as I think I could see it coming, but I liked it and I want to know more about it! Also, the OTHER part of the ending is left wide open for another book and I'm eager to see where this takes us - I'm feeling like it will quite literally broaden the setting quite a bit and that could be exciting when you think of adding the galactic politics and the potential romances that may or may not be involved. 

Overall, Tin Star was a very interesting book. It is not the best book that I've read this year but my interest is up and I will be watching for the next book in the series because I'm certainly interested enough that I want to keep up with these characters (especially the secondary characters) and see how several of the plot lines continue to play out. I recommend Tin Star to fans of space operas, science fiction, female leading characters, and aliens. I think it would be a fantastic book to recommend to male young adult readers - even younger ones - particularly reluctant readers. 


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Tin Star will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Science Fiction
Romance: Nothing heavy. No love triangles. 
Female Lead
Fun Secondary Characters
Great Setting - Space!
Aliens

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci
will be available for purchase on February 25, 2014.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts and they are completely my own! Thank you so much Macmillan! 

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Do YOU like books set in space? 
I do. Do you have any recommendations for great ones? 

Don't forget: 

**Read Chapters 1-5 for FREE for Kindle
**Read Chapters 1-5 for FREE for NOOK

Also, how do you like that cover?
I think it is really great.  



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2 comments:

  1. I had no idea this was a series! I guess that changes how I think about the book because like, I thought it was pretty underdeveloped and like you, the romance was sort of blah to me.

    Also! Totally agree about liking Tula, she's a survivor and thus, to me, interesting.

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  2. While I do read sci-fi and books about aliens, something about Tin Star just didn't appeal to me. I do love that you pointed out the things you really liked about Tula here, as she sounds like a great character! In fact, she sounds so awesome that I might even consider reading this book simply because I already like her.

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